South Africa Literature and Cinema

Literature. – The literature of the South Africa reflects the history of occupations and crossings in the country that generated an ethnic and linguistic heterogeneity testified by the eleven official languages ​​in which the Constitution is formulated (1994). It is not possible to reconstruct a thread that connects the various literary traditions, oral and written, different in their roots and developed throughout the twentieth century amidst the obstacles of censorship and segregation that in particular the apartheid regime (1948-1994) imposed on groups of which they were an expression. Literature in English and Afrikaans, the best known internationally, have reached high levels in poetry (remember at least Dennis Brutus, Breyten Breytenbach, Jeremy Cronin, Ingrid Jonker, Ingrid de Kok, Antjie Krog, Karen Press) and in the theater (Athol Fugard, William Kentridge), but especially in the novel, giving the South Africa two Nobel Prizes (Nadine Gordimer in 1991 and John M. Coetzee in 2003) and authors translated and awarded everywhere.

With the exception of the adventure novel and early European pastoral writings, the literature of South Africa testifies to the violence experienced and expresses the resistance to institutionalized discrimination that has characterized the relationship between ethnic groups. From the western perspective, the literature of the country coincides with that of English expression, with incursions by Afrikaner authors, although it is Chaka (1925; English translation Chaka. An historical romance, 1931; English translation. Chaka zulu, 1959), cronistoria fictionalized by the eponymous Zulu leader written by Thomas Mofolo (1876-1948) in the Sesotho language, one of the first and most important works to serve as a model for the whole continent. The surnames of the South African novel by English is The Story of an African Farm (1883; trans. It. The Story of an African Farm, 1986) by Olive Schreiner (1855-1920), woven around characters of various ethnicities on a farm in the Karoo. Farm and natural landscape, emblematic of the binomial culture / nature, are also intertwined in the Afrikaner model of the plaasroman (rural novel) and resurface in all white literature to come as dystopian places in opposition to their mystification in Boer historiography. They return in the works of Pauline Smith (1882-1959), Daphne Rooke (1914-2009), Nadine Gordimer (v.), André Brink (1935-2015), Karel Schoeman (b.1939), John M. Coetzee (v.), Marlene van Niekerk (b.1954), Damon Galgut (b.1963), Mark Behr (b.1963).

If there is a permanent anxiety of geographical and cultural location among white writers, black writing appears to be concentrated on something else. Mhudi (1930; trans it. 2010) by Solomon T. Plaatje (1876-1932) shifts the focus on pre-colonial conflicts, a prefiguration of South African history to come. Black and colored fiction it is predominantly politicized and urban; the village enters the scene, if anything, to mark the contrast with the existential decay of the metropolis. Here the names of the generation linked to the “Drum” magazine stand out, such as Can Themba (1924-1968), Nat Nakasa (1937-1965), Lewis Nkosi (1936-2010), Bloke Modisane (1923-1986), Es’kia Mphahlele (1919-2008), Richard Rive (1931-1989), Alex La Guma (1925-1985), James Matthews (b.1929), intellectuals who paid for their political commitment with prison, exile, mental illness. Similar urban settings, but with an emphasis on the racist and gender discrimination suffered by black, colored and Asian women, can be found in the works of Bessie Head (19371986), Miriam Tlali (b.1933), Sindiwe Magona (b.1943), Farida Karodia (b.1942).

In post-apartheid, the South Africa gave rise to a literary flourishing in which sophisticated authors such as Zoë Wicomb (b.1948), Achmat Dangor (b.1948), Ivan Vladislavić (b.1957) are confirmed., alongside more recent talent including Zakes Mda (v.), Rayda Jacobs (b.1947), Sello Duiker (1974-2005), Phaswane Mpe (1970-2004), Imraan Coovadia (b.1970), Niq Mhlongo (d. 1973), Kgebeti Moele (b. 1978). In the narrative of the new millennium, the problematic representation of urban fragmentation prevails, exacerbated by renewed economic and social discrimination. Recently, the literature of the South Africa has shown a particular upsurge in genres such as detective stories, noir, and detective fiction. It is often a reformulation of the political discourse in a new guise, which in fact starts with the persistence of violence in the country’s daily life. The production is of a high standard and receives prestigious awards at home and abroad. Afrikaans expression, English, Zulu, the names of Deon Meyer (b.1958), Roger Smith (b.1960), Gillian Slovo (b.1952), Meshack Ma-sondo (1961-2013), Mike Nicol (b. 1951), Karin Brynard (b.1957), Sifizo Mzobe (b.1978), François Bloemhof (b.1962), Carel van der Merwe (b.1963). A particular reworking of the dark themes pertinent to the Gothic genre is at the center of the production of the famous Afrikaner playwright Reza de Wet (1952-2012). In science fiction we note the work of the award-winning Lauren Beukes (b. 1976) in whose futuristic and cyberpunk novels Moxyland (2008) and Zoo City (2010) conceals the disturbing portrait of the South African present.

Cinema. – South African cinema, from the 1910s to the 1980s, was characterized by a production made almost exclusively by Afrikaners due to the segregationist policy of apartheid. Only in the nineties did we witness the birth of a black South African cinema through which to reflect on the political and social changes of a country where the tensions did not end with the end of the racist regime. For South Africa 2005, please check

The speech was also addressed by white filmmakers who broadened the points of view of a rapidly developing cinema. A transformation that, from the early years of the 21st century, has led the cinematography of the South Africa towards the creation of valuable auteur films, genre works, often of not excellent quality, and an increasingly consistent number of exemplary documentaries.

Kalo Matabane has well represented this narrative and aesthetic research with her works. In Conversations on a sunday afternoon (2005) he collects the voices of refugees and immigrants, intertwining documentary and fiction on the streets of Johannesburg; in State of Violence (2010) he describes the reaction of a man who witnessed the murder of his wife; in Nelson Mandela. The mith & me (2014) draws an intimate portrait of the leader of the African national congress (ANC). The contradictions of the new South Africa were told by John Kani, famous actor and pioneer of South African theater, in his debut film Nothing but the truth (2008), where he describes the rivalry that divides two brothers, and by established directors such as Darrell J. Roodt and Oliver Schmitz, respectively in Zimbabwe (2008), on the exploitation of the people who daily cross the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa, and in Life above all (2010), one of the most significant South African films of the decade, which, with the tones of melodrama, narrates the relationship between a mother and a daughter and addresses the issue of AIDS. Gavin Hood, after Tsotsi (2005; His name is Tsotsi), winner of the Oscar in 2005 for best foreign film, started a career in Hollywood directing the drama Rendition (2007; Rendition – Illegal detention) and the science fiction films X-Men origins: Wolverine (2009; X-Men: the origins – Wolverine) and Ender’s game (2013). Ian Gabriel made Four Corners (2013), a solid genre film in which two gangs compete for territory in Cape Town.

Aryan Kaganof (known until 1999 with the name of Ian Kerkhof, director and experimental artist outside the choir), Francois Verster and Rehad Desai have distinguished themselves for their original approach to documentary, a genre in which Jeppe on a friday (2013) by South African Arya Lalloo and Canadian Shannon Walsh, a film experiment participated in with a group of young female filmmakers led by the two directors at work in the Jeppe district of Johannesburg.

South Africa Cinema

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